Application Customisation

June 26 1999

Linux is a great OS because everything in it can be customised. If Windows were opensource and it could be fully customised, I think it would be much more popular software. Since that is not the case, people turn to Linux - a highly customisable piece of software.

I used to use KDE, which I thought was really cool. Frankly I thought nothing could replace it. I guess I was wrong, since then came GNOME and Enlightenment. Nowadays, I use this combination and it reminds me of my fvwm2 combined with AfterStep days. What made me switch? The fact that GNOME was highly configurable, and Enlgihtenment also was very highly configurable, with both of them having different configuration utilities.

Thats only the shell part. What about the applications sitting here on my desktop. Let's take an xterm window, a really popular piece of software. I get to control its size, position on my desktop, the background and foreground colours, and even the cursor colours! Thats like configuring nearly everything one sees.

Since GNOME allows for shortcuts, I created a shortcut. In the part which requires the command line for the shortcut, this was what I used:-

  xterm -geometry 80x24+60+40 -bg Black -fg Yellow -cr Orchid -ms Orchid -fn fixed -T "Dr. Byte Console"

So, what does the above do? It starts xterm with an 80x24 window, sitting at the position 60, 40 on my desktop. The background is Black, the foreground is Yellow. The cursor and the mouse colour is Orchid and the font is fixed. Finally, the title of it is set to "Dr. Byte Console" and not xterm.

Cool or what? Imagine doing this to an MS-DOS command line window! The itch was there, and to satisfy myself, I decided to scratch the itch. I got an even cooler application, called Eterm. It's a terminal program, not just for Enlightenment, but should work for all. The below is what I use to start myself a cool Eterm.

  Eterm -T "Dr. Byte Console" -g 80x24+280+148 -t trans

The above works similar to the xterm command line option, except the background is transparent. This means that the wallpaper image is there, sitting whenever I run commands or do stuff! To see how cool it looks, I took the liberty of making a desktop screen shot (which used to be online, but with all the moving of homes, it got lost).

Now you're probably wondering how come I got so much detail, and nice colour in the Eterm window when I did an ls. That has a lot to do with my .bashrc file. I have edited and customised it so commands work the way I want them too.

To get nice advanced directory listings as well as colour, the command line type for it is ls -alF --color. But entering that into the .bashrc file would not help very much. So, the first process is to edit the .bashrc file with your favourite text editor. Go to the end of the file, and add the following line:-

  alias ls='ls -alF --color'

Now, everytime you run ls, it adds the remaining bits like -alF --color and your life has been made easier. I do the same for ps, which prints all my processes for the user running, and the option is alias ps='ps x'. The best part of this is that if I want to see what the whole system is running, I still can do this, just typing ps au which actually is ps x au! Cool or what?

There. Now you have an extremely easy way to customise applications. Most, if not all applications support the -g or -geometry options and the -T option. So, control your applications!

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